Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(12):3036-3047. doi:10.7150/ijbs.61566

Review

Partial EMT in Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Snapshot

Chengcheng Liao1,2, Qian Wang2,4, Jiaxing An3, Qian Long1,2, Hui Wang3, Meiling Xiang1, Mingli Xiang1, Yujie Zhao1,2, Yulin Liu1,2, Jianguo Liu1,2✉, Xiaoyan Guan1✉

1. Department of Orthodontics II, Affiliated Stomatological Hospital of Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563000, China
2. Oral Disease Research Key Laboratory of Guizhou Tertiary Institution, School of Stomatology, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563006, China
3. Department of Gastroenterology, Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563000, China
4. Microbial Resources and Drug Development Key Laboratory of Guizhou Tertiary Institution, Life Sciences Institute, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563006, China

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Citation:
Liao C, Wang Q, An J, Long Q, Wang H, Xiang M, Xiang M, Zhao Y, Liu Y, Liu J, Guan X. Partial EMT in Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Snapshot. Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(12):3036-3047. doi:10.7150/ijbs.61566. Available from https://www.ijbs.com/v17p3036.htm

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Abstract

In the process of cancer EMT, some subgroups of cancer cells simultaneously exhibit both mesenchymal and epithelial characteristics, a phenomenon termed partial EMT (pEMT). pEMT is a plastic state in which cells coexpress epithelial and mesenchymal markers. In squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), pEMT is regulated, and the phenotype is maintained via the HIPPO pathway, NOTCH pathway and TGF-β pathways and by microRNAs, lncRNAs and the cancer microenvironment (CME); thus, SCC exhibits aggressive tumorigenic properties and high stemness, which leads collective migration and therapy resistance. Few studies have reported therapeutic interventions to address cells that have undergone pEMT, and this approach may be an effective way to inhibit the plasticity, drug resistance and metastatic potential of SCC.

Keywords: Partial EMT, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, FAT1, HIPPO, NOTCH, TGF-β, Collective migration, Stemness, Therapeutic resistance